MEDFORD, N.J. — Police say a New Jersey man abused a 14-week-old dog, causing injuries so severe the dog eventually died while in his care.
And, police say, there's more: The man also set up a GoFundMe account, raising more than $14,000 from nearly 700 donors, to pay for veterinary care for the dog.
Medford Township police stopped Reid M. Herjo for speeding on Jan. 22. He told police at the time he was taking his German shepherd pup, Atlas, to a veterinary hospital for injuries the dog purportedly sustained after being struck by an all-terrain vehicle.
A few days later, however, police said they received information suggesting that Herjo had harmed the dog intentionally, and they opened an investigation in cooperation with the New Jersey State Police.
Investigators said the dog had been severely abused, and that Herjo caused numerous fractures and hemorrhaging, requiring surgery.
In just six weeks' time, investigators said, Herjo also had harmed the dog on at least two additional occasions, even though the 24-year-old said Atlas had been hurt falling down stairs and falling down a hill.
Atlas died Feb. 3 while in Herjo's care, police said, and there was evidence the dog had sustained more injuries.
Police also said Herjo had created a GoFundMe page, seeking donations for the puppy's veterinary care and falsely claiming he and the dog were involved in a hit-and-run crash. The account raised $14,065 over 28 days, receiving 693 donations.
A spokesman for the crowdfunding site emailed a statement saying Herjo had violated its terms of service and the site would issue refunds to everyone who donated to his page. Herjo would also be hanned from the platform, he noted, and the site was working with law enforcement officials on the investigation.
"Misuse is extremely rare on our platform," the spokesman continued. "Campaigns with misuse make up less than one tenth of one percent of all campaigns. With that said, there are unfortunate and rare instances where people create campaigns with the intention to take advantage of others' generosity. In the small handful of cases where misuse occurs, GoFundMe takes action to resolve the issue."
Reid was charged March 28 with animal cruelty and theft by deception.
Follow Phaedra Trethan on Twitter: @CP_Phaedra